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The Teens' Speech


On Christmas Day this year, teenage Britain delivered its own message to the nation. Find out more

All I Want For Christmas

Do you worry about debt in the run up to Christmas?

If, like 44% of teenagers, you're feeling a little light this Christmas, then why not spare a thought for that malfunctioning corporation, The United Kingdom?

Estimates of the national debt level range from a cool £800 billion to a cheek sucking £1,340 billion. Estimates of our personal share of this start at £13,000 and ascend infinitely at a 90-degree angle.

But, worry not, there is a way we can help. A way in which we can collectively wrap our warm and comforting arms around the quivering future of this country and hold it to our nurturing breast.

It's called the 'Whittle Down the National Debt' initiative and is being billed as "a wonderful present for children and grandchildren".

All monies go to Her Majesty's Treasury to help reduce the national debt.

Imagine explaining the concept of deferred gratification in perpetuity as you look into the innocent and questioning eyes of a brutally betrayed toddler this Christmas.

Dumb and dumber?

"They cannot do reading. They cannot do writing."

In an outspoken and grammatically incorrect attack on young people, Sir Stuart Rose, boss of Marks & Spencers, said millions of school and college leavers are not fit for work, suggesting they didn't even have a rudimentary grasp of basic grammar or arithmetic.

In a startling demonstration of his own unique understanding of the english language, the knight of the realm was quoted as saying "They cannot do reading. They cannot do arithmetic. They cannot do writing."

He could have easily ended his speech with the apparently truthful line 'And I cannot do speaking'.

At a time when the number of 16 to 24-year-olds branded as "Neet" - not in education, employment or training - is set to top 1 million, corporations like Marks & Spencers should probably be asking how can they help young people and not just put the boot in.

But, as we've already explored, young people are the first wave of employees to be hit in times of recession. Graduate recruitment schemes are being discontinued and even young people with qualifications are finding it increasingly hard to find work.

Money too tight to mention

Tash is 15 and she's worried about debt. She's not alone.

In July this year, counselling charity, Relate, said of the 15,000 young people they see every year, nearly a quarter of them are depressed about money.

For Tash, her worry stems from witnessing the effects of the financial crisis on her parents and the stress and sadness is causes them. But, if Tash was a few years older and looking for work, she might find her own chances of getting a job - and staying out of debt - significantly reduced as a result of the economic downturn.

Young people are hit hardest by recession. Lacking the training or experience to hit the ground running at work, they are often overlooked in a time of financial hardship - as recently evidenced by the scrapping of graduate recruitment schemes at BT, Corus and Innocent Drinks.

As well as youth unemployment having an immediate cost - as much as £3.4 million a day, according to The Guardian - there's also a longer term issue to consider. When the economy turns around and the demand for young, willing and able people increases once again, a lost generation of young people who are unskilled and inexperienced is no good to anybody; slowing the country's ability to get back on its feet.

And so we return to what's at the heart of The Teens' Speech. Young people will inherit and shape our country and we have a duty to ensure they have fulfilled and happy futures. If we don't, their unhappiness and lack of opportunity will ultimately impact on all of us.